The best walking socks so you can go from pavement to peak

Because the best walking socks are as important as the paths we tread upon.

Two pairs of the best walking socks hanging from a washing line with mountains in the background

by Gemma Lavers |
Updated on

Ever got halfway through your hike and had a painful blister? There's an easy way to avoid it, and no, we're not talking about borrowing your grandma's itchy wool socks. The best walking socks are an element of your gym clothes that scream comfort, cushioning and durability all rolled into one. View them as the secret weapon tucked into your walking boots...

The best walking socks, at a glance

• Best overall walking socks: Bridgedale Men's Hike Midweight Merino Comfort Boot Socks - View now on Go Outdoors
• Best walking socks (Editor's choice): Finisterre Last Long Ribbed Sock - View now on Finisterre
• Best women's walking socks: 1000 Mile Women's Trek Sock 2 Pack - View now on Go Outdoors

We're often inclined to spend time on picking out the best walking boots and poles, but socks, insoles and laces often get left behind.

So, we've scoured the sock-scape to bring you the ultimate guide to the best walking socks that'll take you from pavement to peak with style, comfort and a dash of adventure. From cushioned comforts to blister-busting wonders, get ready to step up your sock game.

SHOP: The best walking socks

Please note: All prices are correct at the time of writing. Prices, stock and deals are subject to change without notice.

Best overall walking socks

Bridgedale Men's Hike Midweight Merino Comfort Boot Socks Go Outdoors

These timeless, all-season walking socks, crafted from Merino wool, stand out as a reliable choice for treks across varying terrains. Merino wool's exceptional qualities ensure your feet are warm in the harshest of weather but still ventilated. This makes these socks an essential gear for outdoor enthusiasts.

Pros

  • Excellent moisture management thanks to overfoot ventilation
  • Snug merino wool blend to keep your toes warm
  • Made from Coolmax Polyester

Cons

  • Only available in one colour

Best walking socks (Editor's choice)

Finisterre Last Long Ribbed SockFinisterre

Chosen by our very own Editor William Austin-Lobley, the Finisterre socks are a sock draw staple that are perfect for everyday wear. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, these socks are more than just a layer for you feet, they're made with anti-bacterial fibres and a ribbed construction, to stop any odours and keep their shape.

Pros

  • Naturally has anti-bacterial properties
  • Ribbed construction for durability and shape
  • Sustainably packaged with their 'Leave No Trace' packaging material that's water soluble and ocean safe

Cons

  • Not ideal for longer hikes as they make your feet get too warm

Best women's walking socks

1000 Mile Women's Trek Sock 2 PackGo Outdoors

Embark on your next adventure in comfort with the 1000 Mile Trek socks. Designed for the demands of outdoor exploration, these socks boast features like padded zones on the toes and ball of the foot, flat-toe seams to stop irritation and Achilles tendon padding. The Marino wool yarn also helps to wick away sweat and keep your feet feeling cool and dry. So, say goodbye to sore feet and hello to endless adventures.

Pros

  • Achilles tendon padding
  • Arch bracing for added support and a custom fit
  • Ventilation zones on the top of the foot to increase airflow

Cons

  • Sometimes hard to get hold of due to popularity

Best walking socks for long-distance

Smartwool Men's Mountaineer Classic Edition Maximum Cushion Crew Socks Amazon
Price: $26.00
Alternative retailers
DICK'S Sporting Goods$26.00View offer

The Smartwool Crew socks are made from a recycled nylon structure with an elasticised arch brace for a secure fit. This is to ensure stability and prevent slippage even on the most uneven paths. Plus, say goodbye to any discomfort with the flat knit toe seam that minimises irritation for a seamless walking experience (literally).

Pros

  • Recycled nylon construction
  • Elasticised arch base for a secure fit
  • Flat knit toe seam for comfort

Cons

  • Sizing sometimes comes up big, be aware of this if you're on the cusp of a size

Best walking socks with a soft but strong wool blend

Inspired by the dramatic fjords of Norway, these walking socks are knitted with a plush cotton-blend yarn. With a calf-length design, a folded-over ribbed cuff, and reinforced cushioning at the heel and toes, these socks offer both style and comfort in equal measure. So when you're venturing into landscapes, the Norwegian Fjord socks promise a touch of indulgence for your tired toes.

Pros

  • Made from a soft but strong cotton-blend yarn
  • Reinforced cushion heel
  • All yarns sourced from ethical European suppliers

Cons

  • Some reviewers found them quite larger if you have larger calf muscles

Best walking socks for moisture management

Saloman Men's Merino Socks 2 PackBlacks
Price: £15 (was £30)

www.blacks.co.uk

If you want a pair of walking socks with guaranteed moisture management, the Saloman Merino socks are the perfect option. With ventilated mesh panels for added breathability, these socks will keep your feet feeling fresh and cool - no matter how long the hike. Plus, there's a choice between two aesthetic colours - grey and navy - so you can match your boots to your socks.

Pros

  • Features ventilated mesh panels for breathability
  • Moisture management system
  • Available in grey and navy

Cons

  • These socks are known to shrink if not washed correctly

Best budget walking socks

QUECHUA Hiking Socks - Hike 500 Decathlon

With a quirky design and a price that's under £15, what's not to love about these hiking socks. The QUECHUA socks are all about comfort. They have anti-friction yarn Terry fabric that's water-repellent, durable and won't rub on your toes. And who doesn't want a pair of walking shoes that reduces the risk of pesky blisters?

Pros

  • Anti-friction yarn Terry fabric reinforcement on rubbing areas
  • Made from water-repellent yarn, with well-ventilated knit on the foot arch to keep it dry
  • Anatomical shape with 100% elastic structure for additional foot support

Cons

  • Some reviewers found they fit a little tight

Best walking socks for sweaty feet

Patagonia Wool Crew Socks Patagonia

Made from a blend of responsibly sourced Merino wool, these socks offer unparalleled softness and insulation, keeping your feet both cosy and dry. With features like special patterning for breathability, mesh arch brace for support and crew-length coverage - treat your feet to the luxury they deserve. Plus, with Patagonia's commitment to environmental stewardship, you can feel good knowing your purchase supports this.

Pros

  • Mesh arch brace provides a snug fit
  • Terry-loop footbed gives airy cushioning across the bottom of the foot
  • Clever patterning on the top of the foot provides added breathability and stretch

Cons

  • A little thin, so not best for winter walking

A guide to the best walking socks: FAQs

Should walking socks be thick or thin?

As a general rule, if you wear thicker walking boots, your socks should be thicker too. This is because walking boots are more likely to give you blisters, so wearing thicker socks will give your feet extra padding and will also keep them warm. On the other hand, thin socks (like gym socks) are a more lightweight and breathable option and are better if you hike in lighter shoes or walking trainers. This is because you need the thin socks to protect your feet still, but they won't feel overly thick in your shoes. Also think about climate, if you tend to walk in spring/summer or hotter climates, thinner socks will be your best friend.

Man walking on a treadmill wearing socks and trainers
Happy feet often make for a happy hike. ©What's The Best/Gemma Lavers

What is the best sock fabric for walking?

Merino wool is easily the most popular fabric for walking socks. This material provides unmatched softness and insulation, all while working hard to regulate the temperature of your feet and wick away any moisture. Thus, making sure that your feet remain dry and blister-free, even on those scorching summer days. Merino wool is also naturally odour-resistant, so you can say goodbye to that post-walk stench. If Merino wool wasn't doing enough, it's also eco-friendly. So, if you're ever struggling to decipher nylon from cotton from polyester, just look for Merino wool socks instead.

Do you wear normal socks under walking socks?

Some individuals swear by using a thin liner sock underneath their walking socks to minimise any friction inside the shoe. But, this isn't for everyone. Some people skip this ritual entirely and just opt for a single pair of high-performance walking socks that provide everything two pairs of socks can. Like cushioning, support and moisture-wicking properties. So, it's up to you, are you going to be a double-sock devotee or a solo sock sensation?

Gemma Lavers is a Health & Fitness Writer for What's The Best. From understanding nutrition to practising yoga and Pilates to delving into the psychology of motivation. She enjoys demystifying the latest fitness trends and staying on top of the dynamic health landscape, whether that's the best gym leggings, fitness trackers or the benefits of yoga.

When Gemma’s not writing, she can be found attending Pilates, yoga and Zumba classes. She’s also a bit of a home workout aficionado, constantly trying out new ways to keep her moving at home. Between writing, exercising and shopping, there’s nothing she loves more than hopping on a plane and exploring new cultures.

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